My daughters are only seven and ten, but we are teaching them how to save and keep track of their money already. Why? I don’t want them to make the same mistakes that I made up until my late twenties.
For older youth, the Healthy Aboriginal Network (HAN) created The Game Plan, our financial literacy comic book. It’s about Jake, an 18 year old that is forced to learn the hard way that we are what we do in life, not what we own. The production of the comic was funded by the TD Financial Literacy Grant Fund.
Finding the story
HAN improves literacy on health and social issues by creating engaging comic book stories. So you’d think this project would be a piece of cake for us. It wasn’t. We really struggled to find the balance between story and the financial concepts we wanted to touch on. So we did our homework by commissioning secondary research into the areas of Aboriginal financial literacy, financial literacy in general, youth financial education, learning theories, behavioural change, and social marketing campaigns.
As a result of the research, HAN determined that:
• The target audience for the comic should be urban Aboriginal Youth.
• The comic’s story should be aimed at youth in the pre-contemplation and
contemplation stages of financial literacy behaviour change because there
are a lack of resources available for this group.
• The comic’s story must connect emotionally with the reader to raise their
awareness of the need to change their money management behaviours and
convince them that it is a worthwhile endeavor to pursue.
• Topics covered by the comic should focus on the money management skills
of basic saving, spending, and debt.
Testing the initial draft
Once we felt that we had an engaging story we set out to create the focus group short. We use storyboards for the videos, which are really just rough pencil sketches, and we import the images into a movie editing program to give the stills movement. We posted the video to YouTube to test with the financial community and adults that work with youth. And we tested the story in person with youth on Vancouver Island, Vancouver and Toronto. This gave HAN preliminary quality and impact measurement data, and the ability to make changes where necessary before committing to a final colour publication.
The goal and how it’s being measured
The final comic was published in August 2013. The goal of the book is to have readers realize that saving and debt have real consequences that impact both positively and negatively. We want readers to consider consequences they may have been unaware of before reading the comic and to start to see that proper money management is a better path to achieving one’s real life goals. As opposed to consumerism, which is more of a temporary "feel good" patch that actually avoids the work needed to achieve real success.
To measure the reach, impact, and achievement of the comic’s goal, HAN is undertaking an evaluation of readers’ attitudes towards savings, spending, and debt before and after reading the comic. We are also tracking the distribution of the comic and visits to the financial literacy resource page listed on the back of the comic for readers to find out more information on the topic.
Sean Muir is the founder and executive director of the Healthy Aboriginal Network (HAN). HAN creates comic books on health and social issues for youth - www.thehealthyaboriginal.net.